Type: Trad, Ice, 1200 ft, 7 pitches, Grade III
FA: unknown
Page Views: 28,657 total · 138/month
Shared By: Leo Paik on Feb 11, 2002
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

You & This Route

113 Opinions

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This is a classic, stepped moderate...beautiful, big, fat, blue! and 900+ feet. Just pick very stable snow conditions for this one. Go up the road past Silverton to Eureka as far as it is plowed. This obvious line lies across the drainage. Contour 20 minutes to the base. Belay out of the line of fire.

P1. 1st pitch is 60m of fat blue gets you to a good stance. 55m gets you to a tree belay.

P2. Fun, thinner variations right exist on the 2nd pitch.

P3. 3rd pitch is 55m of steeper, big blue leads to a semi-hanging belay.

P4. 4th pitch is 60m starting with lower-angled waves and then snow lead you to the base of the 5th pitch. Great place to soak up rays here.

P5. 5th pitch stretches 60m of beautiful, photogenic blue (can be wet). Steeper lines to the left. Here you can walk off left, v-thread, or....

P6-7. Head up 2 more WI3 pitches above. Beware on the walkoff of unstable snow. Goes into the sun in the afternoon.

Consider a spare key, should you wind up being the last party out & the cold temperatures make your car key brittle....


Bunch of screws & lack of brains.


Julian Smith
Colorado Springs, CO
Julian Smith   Colorado Springs, CO
Stairway to Heaven is in really good. The ice is in good condition, with the upper flow being nice plastic. The middle flow, maybe 3rd pitch or so, is the crux of the route, but is easiest on the right. The snow is pretty deep on the approach. The decent was not too bad with regards to avalanche conditions. I screwed up and left my climbing gloves at the base. Don't know who the other folks were that I shared the route with, but if you picked them up, please drop me a line. Many thanks. Cheers. Feb 19, 2002
evan freeman
South Lake Tahoe, CA
evan freeman   South Lake Tahoe, CA
As of 12 days ago Stairway was thin and running with water. I climbed the first pitch mixed... hopefully it's fattened up lately, but the weather has been warm. Dec 3, 2002
evan freeman
South Lake Tahoe, CA
evan freeman   South Lake Tahoe, CA
Climbed it last Thursday. It's not as fat as the photo in the guidebook, but is fully in and a nice outing. The crux pitch is indeed vertical for a ways... Dec 9, 2002
Stairway was in great shape Sunday-not too wet at all! Not a lot of snow makes the descent real easy.... Dec 14, 2003
Tim and I finally sent this one on the 14th after being turned back last December. Everything came together, just one of those days...Blue sky, warm, no wind, quality ice, first party (of three) on the route. Snowshoes were helpful, though there wasn't much of the white stuff on the route. P1 starting to get a bit hacked out. P3 was the crux, felt like 4+. Could only get one good screw 8 feet into the 40 foot vertical start to the right. Lefthand start per Jack was the same. A bit chendeliered here, lots of air pockets. Tense. P5 fat, blue, plastic. A much welcomed finish. Reasonable walk-off and a sustained glissade down. Still smiling! Feb 16, 2004
Tim Judkins
Salt Lake City, UT
Tim Judkins   Salt Lake City, UT
Matt and I approached STH by crossing the drainage on a bridge near the cabin. We headed up from there and traversed northeast-ish to the climb. It may have been a bit quicker, but the normal approach is probably safer in terms of avoiding slides. Feb 16, 2004
"H" Lampasso
Manitou Springs
"H" Lampasso   Manitou Springs
As of 2010 February 19, SWTH is in FAT!!! Unfortunately we picked a bad weekend to head down there. Avi danger went from considerable to high. We started climbing Whorehouse, but got hammered by very heavy spindrift that knocked me off. Feb 22, 2010
Mark D.
Santa Fe
Mark D.   Santa Fe
This is a great route! Maybe it was the day, but when you have 300 meters of fat ice in mid April things are pretty good. T-shirt weather and sticky placements. Still steep though on Pitch 1, 3, 5. Apr 21, 2010
Joe Tebbe  
This was my second back country lead on ice. The conditions were great!
I lead pitch 1 & 4, Tom lead pitch 2, and Mark lead pitch 3. At pitch 4, we decided to rappel because of ice melt from afternoon sun. Next time, start earlier in AM later in the season. Mar 3, 2011
Anastasia B
Portland, OR
Anastasia B   Portland, OR
Climbed it in late December 2013. Fat ice, P3 felt harder than a 4, bad AMS. Apr 16, 2014
mike d
Montrose, CO
mike d   Montrose, CO
The walk-off involves a fair amount of travel in high-consequence terrain. With stable, shaded snow it might be cruiser but otherwise may require belays and a rappel, in which case it's probably faster and safer to v-thread. Mar 13, 2018